Keep your article, LA Times

I don’t usually post about articles or current events but after reading the article in the LA Times Unraveling an epidemic, I can’t keep quiet.

This article seems to imply that the journalist thinks parents of children with autism are some how cheating the system.  The parents’ pursuit of services for their children is portrayed in the most negative way possible.

These services aren’t housecleaning or a massage. These are actual therapies that have been proven to be able to help children with autism and other disabilities.  I think it does people with autism and their families  great disservice to write about them this way.

Studies have shown that investment in early intervention saves money over the life of the person with a disability.  I wonder why this article did not include any of that data.

Research shows investment in early intervention saves money long term

Independent reviews of early intensive behavioral intervention

Early intervention for toddlers with autism highly effective

Early intervention lessens impact of autism

List of articles and studies suggested by wrightslaw.com

I also think that the quote from Bryna Siegal is a good example of how an autism diagnosis is subjective and how professional’s subjective opinions are both driving and keeping our children from getting services they need.  She does not mention any evaluation methods, it seems like she just came to her own conclusion about this child.

Can you imagine trying to get help for your daughter and being told by a professional that her problems (what a terrible word for a professional to use) stemmed from obsessive compulsive disorder and poor discipline at home.   And then being told there were plenty of other children in greater need.

I don’t know that Ms. Siegel told the last part to the parent, but the fact that she said it in an interview with the LA Times puts it out there.  Did Ms. Siegel suggest cognitive behavioral therapies could help this child?

How did she come to the conclusion that poor discipline was at the root of this girl’s issues?   The child already had a diagnosis of Aspergers.  Did Ms. Siegel test the child’s auditory  processing abilities?  I would think that a professional would know that what appears as discipline problems can also stem from receptive language issues, anxiety and need for sameness to the point they don’t understand what to do if an instruction is different.  If somehow Ms. Siegal had intimate knowledge of how this family interacted at home, and indeed there were issues of poor discipline, why did this professional not offer the family some advice?

I wonder why this article did not mention that people with autism can additionally be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder.  One study showed that 17 % of people with autism also have OCD.

I also wonder why this article did not at least briefly mention that there are commonalities between autism and OCD.  This study found that attention switching problems may reflect both symptom overlap and a common etiological factor underlying ASD, ADHD and OCD.

I do realize that there can only so much information that can be in one article.  I think it is unfortunate that people with little to no knowledge of autism will read this and find nothing to encourage them to be accepting of autism.

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  1. This was a great and very well-written post. Thank you for sharing!

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